Hip Daddy sat down with a very creative, entrepreneur who just happens to run a very cool spirits company straight outta NYC. Double Cross Vodka’s Chief Brand Officer, Devin Wilson, talks Fatherhood, Vodka, Star Wars, and breasts….this should be interesting…
Tell us about your kids. What’s it like being a dad?
I have a daughter, Florence. She’s 11 weeks old. I love and cherish being a dad and it’s way more intense than I was prepared for on all fronts. The joy and the highs are greater than expected and so are the challenges and frustrations. To steal a line from the Peace Corps – it’s the toughest job you’ll ever love. I’m learning so much about how to just be with a baby at this age. A wise friend said to me years go that there are three kinds of love – romantic love, friend love and kid love. Now I truly understand all three.
Talk to us about your parenting style.
Well, we’ve only been at it for 11 weeks so it’s still in development. At this point, I feel my job as a parent is to understand and pay close attention to Florence so she gets all she needs. And I want to do this in a respectful way. She may only be 11 weeks old, but she’s a person nonetheless. I want to avoid the “well, she’s only a baby, she won’t really remember” or “she doesn’t really feel it or know why she’s crying” attitude.
What’s the one thing you cannot live without as a dad?
My wife’s breasts. It sounds like a joke, but I’m really serious. We are breastfeeding exclusively and what my wife has had to do – and continues to do – is nothing less than heroic. They bring harmony to the entire house. Okay, that was two things.
What’s your favorite daddy outfit or what do you like to dress your child in?
This is going to make me sound like much more of a Star Wars geek than I am, but we have this cream colored sleep-sack thing that has a dark brown stripe running diagonally across the front and down the side. It looks like something baby Jedis would wear. Of course, I need to say this every time we put it on, and carry her around and call her a little Jedi, which results in much eye-rolling from my wife.
What’s it like running a fast-growing vodka company while trying to manage the responsibilities of being a new dad?
I’m not sure it’s that much different than any dad trying to manage the demands of work and family. We are based in Boston and I’m in New York or another major city for a couple days almost every week so that can be tough. Depending on the trip my wife and Florence may come along. We did that in New York recently and it was great. Next week they will join me in Chicago for four days.
Basically there are all new boundaries to be maintained and new priorities. I’m part of the team that started the business, so I’m very passionate about it’s success and truly love doing the work – but this can’t come at the expense of being the involved, hands-on dad I want to be. Weekends have become much more sacred than they were before. I have to put the phone down, close the computer and be there for Florence and my wife. Which I love doing, but it takes conscious effort to let work go.
What’s the latest with Double Cross?
The Double Cross brand is doing great. It still blows me away to walk into a bar or store and see it there. We launched in 2008 in New York and New Jersey and have grown steadily since then. Today, Double Cross is sold nationally and we are one of the top-selling high-end vodka brands. We are strongest in the larger cities like New York, Miami, LA and Chicago, but we also have fans that love us from all over the U.S. When people discover Double Cross they are usually first intrigued by the bottle and then once they taste the spirit it wins them over for good. I’m not making this up – we get emails daily from people talking about how they’ve “switched” from Grey Goose or Ketel or whatever previous brand they enjoyed. Which of course is always satisfying.
Your job requires you to entertain into the wee hours of the night, so doesn’t your baby at home. Describe your perfect night at work and at home?
A perfect night at work would come at the end of a day of productive, creative meetings. That helps carry good vibes into the evening, which would start with visiting a couple of bars and restaurants in whatever city I’m in. I love to meet owners and managers, talk to bartenders about the brand, answer questions they may have, that kind of thing. You learn so much by sitting at the bar and listening to them. Then there would be dinner with local colleagues and/or business partners. If there’s an event Double Cross is sponsoring I’d go to that. I’m on fatherhood rhythms these days, so I it’s hard to go past midnight.
The perfect night at home is currently under revision and can change at any moment. But the best nights we’ve had are when Florence starts winding down around seven or so, we will hang out on the terrace, sip some wine, talk about the day, I might noodle around on my guitar, Florence falls fully asleep, we successfully transfer her to bed, eat dinner in peace and go to bed. Doesn’t always go this way, but you asked for perfect.
What does it mean to be a “hip daddy”?
To me a hip daddy is someone who is totally dedicated to contributing to a healthy, loving, secure family while remaining in touch with his own unique style, his own creative outlets and endeavors. The happiest (and I guess hippest) dads I’ve seen are those who are very clear about their priorities and give totally to their families while continuing to thrive in other areas of life like work, fitness, spirituality, spending time with friends – those types of things. It’s a bit of a cliché, but it’s all about balance.
To learn more about Double Cross and Devin, follow him on Twitter @devinwilson